Finally Wes gets his big moment… Here’s a spotlight post on my eldritch disaster lad.
Honestly, I can’t remember – but I was interested in masks and personas and when I wrote The Crows and introduced him as this polyamorous Gene Simmons wannabe, downplaying his wealth and London life while around his childhood friends in his hometown, I thought it would be really interesting to have an eldritch mutation that was a bit different and that messed with people’s minds in a way that wasn’t ARGH TENTACLES. I think I’d recently watched an episode of Rizzoli and Isles where there was a pick-up artist who peacocked with statement pieces in clubs, and so that merged in my head with my fascination with masks and Commedia del’Arte.
I have memory processing issues and face-blindness. If you’re wondering how bad it is, I once saw a 5 sec clip of Denzil Washington in Unstoppable and my brain clicked the ‘Vin Diesel’ recognition button, even though it knew there was something not quite right about this, and I was then convinced that 5 sec clip was from a Vin Diesel film, even though I had seen the movie Unstoppable. The reason for this was the fact they both had shaved/bald heads and it was an action scene, and those were the only facts my brain retained from the clip.
So when developing Wes, it wasn’t too hard to describe basically an exaggerated version of how I see other people, which is, I will look at a close friend of decades, and suddenly see their real face for the first time. I also used to have mild body dysmorphia (not to be confused with dysphoria), and while I now feel very comfortable in my body, I have no idea what my actual dimensions are, what my shape is, or how I really look. I can’t judge distances, so I don’t know how much physical space I occupy. I put all this into a character and made it completely literal, so that not only can he not tell, but neither can anyone else.
The peacocking thing made me think about glam rock and Freddie Mercury, which is where the Gene Simmons comparison comes into it, and so that played a big part in character design. He’s gender non-conforming (gnc) in that he wears makeup – especially eyeliner and eyeshadow – and nail varnish, and tends to wear femme satin robes around the house, and so on.
Wes is awful. Fact.
He’s a middle-class aspiring mediocre wannabe, desperate to be influential and liked and seen and wanted, he cannot be lonely, and he is dazzled by power, wealth and influence. He’s also charismatic and extroverted, a big personality hiding a LOT of undiagnosed mental health issues, neurodivergence (ADHD) and deep-rooted, unexamined insecurities. In Thirteenth he reveals he went to therapy once, but “didn’t have the balls for it”, and his therapist suggested he cut down on the drugs and booze, so she had to go.
He’s a neoliberal “step on me, Maggie” Thatcherite, who mercifully often forgets to vote or engage in politics in any meaningful way. He probably read Atlas Shrugged at an impressionable age and counts it as one of the most important works of literature in the modern age. His reading habits will include Ayn Rand, Nietzsche (whom he pretends to understand), and biographies of Margaret Thatcher, exclusively. He is nearly 30 – this is not a phase.
He is pansexual, polyamorous, and puts a lot of work into developing his sexual ethics. If only he put that much work into his relationship ethics… No, that’s not fair, he does try. He has developed these after years of hurting people, which he has a real talent for. His willingness to change and grow in this area is one of the only redeeming things about him, but it’s a fairly big one.
Wes also has this idea of himself as a Good Guy. He genuinely thinks he does the Right Thing (usually retrospectively defined as the Thing He Did in X situation), and he likes to bring the Good Things he’s done up during arguments about current bad behaviour, as if this gives him a pass, but also because he sincerely feels hard done-by. For example, when Katy is feeling miserable and wants to move out in The Day We Ate Grandad, Wes feels the need to remind her that he was the only one who looked out for her and babysat her when she was a kid. The argument has nothing to do with that, but they can’t discuss current problems without him reminding her of his past ‘Good Deeds’.
He’s done the whole party scene thing to excess, and when we meet him in The Crows he’s apparently got a handle on it. In Thirteenth he really doesn’t, which isn’t his fault: his uncle is using him as a guinea pig for designer recreational drugs as punishment for stealing ketamine. In The Day We Ate Grandad, he’s 22 days sober from pretty much everything, and a physical wreck. He nearly relapses (coke, pills, hallucinogens) over the course of that book, but doesn’t, and that’s not a spoiler as it’s not plot relevant but it is character building. He does start chain-smoking again, and he’s not sober from booze or weed, but that’s the extent of it. I’m really proud of him for that.
Wes is also vegan, because he’s all or nothing, and if he eats meat he may relapse into cannibalism. He enjoys torture, and has always found living a double life where he can pretend he’s this sophisticated, civil, man of the world on the one hand, and on the other breaks people’s legs for his uncle and collects human knee caps (that he forcibly extracts himself) fairly easy to do. He gave that up for the London party life, and his human (rich, sweet, sheltered, naive) partners, but still flirts with that side of life because he misses the rush.
Wes also has the power to end the world.
I’m going to leave that there, and let that sink in.